October 29, 2013

Pioneer Natural Resources: 'Fuelling Vehicles with Natural Gas Makes Sense and Cents'

A Wider Lens – Guest Blog Series 

This is the first installment in our guest blog series: A Wider Lens. 
This series will feature first-hand accounts from people driving natural gas vehicles, industry leaders and decision-makers in the natural gas transportation industry.

By Guest Contributor – Lynn Lyon, Pioneer Natural Resources

Natural gas as a vehicle fuel is a new idea to most people. When provided with a less expensive and cleaner alternative, some people are skeptical. As individuals and companies hear about opportunities for fuel cost savings they become more interested. Those who do the analysis are increasingly deciding that moving to natural gas makes sense and cents.
Lynn Lyon, Director of Fuel Market Development at Pioneer Natural Resources Company: "We have significant savings, with high-mileage drivers saving up to $500 a month in fuel costs." 
Companies with high mileage and strong logistic insight are the first adopters because they know how to assess the impact across their operations. They have the time and the motivation to learn more about their fuel options. With over ten per cent of Fortune 100 companies currently using natural gas to fuel transportation, Pioneer Natural Resources is in good company. Leading companies in retail, food services, shipping, technology and consumer products are learning about the benefits of switching to natural gas.

Pioneer Natural Resources started converting fleet vehicles to run on compressed natural gas in 2008 with a small pilot project in Southern Colorado. As an early adopter, we had an opportunity to learn about how our product, natural gas, could be used in our fleet vehicles. Our first station was not big enough and we had some frustrating but manageable problems with our trucks. Our perseverance paid off though and we are proud of the results.

We have learned that the technology with trucks and stations have improved and provide a stable base for operations. With widespread natural gas pipelines to access and the rapid increase of public stations, we have increased confidence in our ability to fuel up at locations throughout Texas. At this point the biggest challenge is the willingness to change.
Pioneer Natural Resources has over 270 natural gas vehicles with operations in Texas, Kansas, Colorado and Alaska. 
We currently have over 270 natural gas powered vehicles in our fleet. The majority are bi-fuel Ford F-250 Trucks with the bi-fuel Westport WiNG™ Power System. We also use dedicated Peterbilt heavy duty trucks and Honda Civic NGV sedans. We developed three private stations in remote field operations to use local gas. We have teamed up with retail natural gas fuel stations in some locations and expect to use more gas from retailers in the future.

We have significant savings, with high-mileage drivers saving up to five hundred dollars a month in fuel costs. Our trucks and stations have been performing well with minimal issues. When we do have a problem, our relationship with Westport helps us resolve issues quickly.

I personally drive a Westport WiNG ™ Ford F-250 and have been impressed with the seamless transition from natural gas to gasoline when I drive to a remote location without natural gas fueling access. The engine switches fuels while the truck is moving with no interruption – the only way to know that it has switched is to watch the fuel gauges.

Affordable fuel is good for Pioneer and everyone. In the not too distant future, we are expecting more fueling stations and competitive prices for compressed natural gas, at $1-2.00 below the prices of gasoline. We our building off of our successful fleet transition by assessing gasoline and diesel displacement projects with our third party suppliers, drilling operations, pressure pumping services and mining operations.

Switching to natural gas fueling may provide significant savings in many parts of our operations in the future.

Lynn Lyon is the Director of Fuel Market Development at Pioneer Natural Resources Company. Follow her on Twitter: @lynnmurraylyon

To learn more about Pioneer Natural Resources, visit their website: http://www.pxd.com/

October 25, 2013

Roll Call: Alternative Fuel Vehicle Technician Certification Programs On the Rise

As the natural gas vehicle industry grows, more institutions are offering technician certification courses to meet growing student demand. These courses are designed to teach experienced automotive technicians to service and repair natural gas vehicles (NGVs).

Different jurisdictions have varying requirements for alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) technicians. The State of Oklahoma, for instance, stipulates that technicians who work on alternate fuel vehicles need to pass the Oklahoma State Certification Test to be certified as an alternative fuels equipment technician.

Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC) has been offering courses in both compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for the past four years to prepare technicians to pass the state exam. The Professional Development Institute within the college offers a three-day program which has graduated about 450 people to date.  Six students take the $500 course each week, year round.
Shane Snyder is an automotive technician at Fowler Honda in Norman, Oklahoma. He recently completed OCCC’s course.

“It covers all of the bases in a short amount of time,” Shane said. “They teach a lot about natural gas vehicle laws and safety – once you know the information it’s much easier to work on the vehicles. I’m a lot more comfortable after taking the class.”

Shane said his peers work in the areas of fleet services, government fleets, and private dealerships, among others.

John Vanhook, Director of OCCC’s Professional Development Institute, said students receive training in safety, fuel characteristics, system descriptions and operation, fuel line bending, system diagnosis, system inspection and regulations. They have to pass five physical tests during the course where they ‘debug’ problems in a hands-on environment.

“We’ve achieved the state-level support that is needed,” John said. “We get inquiries from across the United States almost every day about this program.”

According to the Atlanta-based Natural Gas Vehicle Institute, NGV safety is a critical responsibility for every fleet manager operating CNG vehicles or liquefied natural gas (LNG) vehicles. The website states there are four key factors vital to safe NGV fleet operations:
  • Safe driving 
  • Safe fueling 
  • Safe maintenance 
  • Standardized fuel system inspections 
The demand for training in this area continues to grow, and in August Linn Benton College announced a $1.5 million award from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to help fund a 10,000 square foot alternative fuels training center in Lebanon, Oregon to train automotive, trucking and heavy equipment technicians, scheduled to open in 2014.

Check out these resources for more information on natural gas vehicle training and certification:

United States
(General): http://www.afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/technician_training.html
Oklahoma: http://www.occc.edu/
(The Oklahoma Division of Capital Assets Management in Oklahoma also offers a map which identifies alternative fuels technicians and/or companies who have been state-certified.)
Atlanta: http://www.ngvi.com/ngv_safety.html
West Virginia: http://naftc.wvu.edu/course_workshop_information/training_schedule
Oregon: https://www.linnbenton.edu/

(General): http://www.gowithnaturalgas.ca/getting-started/training/
Toronto: http://db2.centennialcollege.ca/ce/coursedetail.php?CourseCode=CEAF-804

October 21, 2013

Cummins Westport Recognized for its Spark-Ignited Innovation

Cummins Westport Inc. received international recognition in Washington, D.C. last week for its spark-ignited natural gas engine technology.

Cummins Westport President Jim Arthurs accepted one of the ‘Energy Security Prize,’ Advanced Technology Awards from Securing America's Future Energy (SAFE). The award was presented at the OPEC Oil Embargo +40 – a one-day energy security summit held on the 40th anniversary of the 1973 OPEC oil embargo.
Photo Courtesy of Securing America's Future Energy (SAFE): Dr. Henry Kissinger, former National Security Adviser and Secretary of State, at the OPEC Oil Embargo +40 Energy Summit.
The SAFE prize is designed to recognize emerging and advanced technologies which have the ability to significantly reduce dependence on petroleum-based fuels. The prize is designed to both recognize and reward innovators who are helping to find alternatives to oil dependence.

Cummins Westport engines have been adopted by leading transit agencies, waste management companies and truck fleets and use 100 per cent compressed, liquefied or renewable natural gas.

“Both of Cummins Westport's parent companies - Cummins Inc. and Westport Innovations Inc. - have been pioneers in the use of natural gas for transportation for more than 20 years,” Jim said. “Our joint venture has been a major force in commercializing these engines and making them available for use in transit, refuse and truck applications in both North America and around the world.”

“Companies like Cummins Westport have shown that it can be done, and that what's good for energy security is also good for business,” said Robbie Diamond, Founder and President of SAFE. “We're excited by their leadership and appreciate their perseverance in diversifying our country’s transportation fuels and improving its efficiency.”

The summit brought together business and political leaders to discuss the state of U.S. energy security and the most promising technological solutions to reduce U.S. oil dependence. One of the day’s sessions titled: The Transportation Challenge: Who Can Beat Oil? featured Chairman of BP Capital Management T. Boone Pickens and President and CEO of Waste Management David P. Steiner, among others.

Other attendees included Dr. Henry Kissinger, former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State, and Frederick W. Smith, Chairman, President and CEO of FedEx Corporation.
Photo Courtesy of Securing America's Future Energy  (SAFE): Frederick W. Smith, Chairman, President and CEO of FedEx Corporation speaks at the one-day energy summit.

October 18, 2013

A Canadian First: Westport Opens its Windsor Integration Centre for Bi-fuel Ford Pickups

Canada’s first and only plant to build compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles recognized under Ford’s Qualified Vehicle Modifier program opened its doors this week in Windsor Ontario. Industry, community and government leaders joined Westport Executive Vice President Ian Scott at the opening ceremony of the Westport Windsor Integration Centre on October 16, 2013.

The event marked a new phase in Canada’s natural gas vehicle movement.

Canadians will now be able to drive natural gas-powered new Ford F-Series Super Duty trucks with the Westport WiNG™ Power System. Previously these vehicles were only available in the United States.

Representatives from Ford of Canada, Encana Oil and Gas, Union Gas, Ferus Natural Gas Fuels, Enbridge Gas Distribution, the Canadian Natural Gas Vehicle Alliance and the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce helped cut the ribbon at the new 20,000 square foot facility.

“More and more, our customers are starting to ask for natural gas vehicles,” said Mike Traub, Director, Fleet Sales and Remarketing for Ford of Canada. “We’re glad we now have a product in Canada to offer them.”

Bob Bailey, member of Ontario provincial parliament for Sarnia-Lambton, also attended. He recently proposed Bill 97, the Natural Gas Superhighway Act. The bill includes a non-refundable tax credit for Ontarians who purchase medium and heavy-duty vehicles, using either liquefied natural gas (LNG) or CNG in Ontario.

“Everyone is here today – industry and community leaders – are all here to lead the way in the transition to natural gas vehicles in Canada,” said John Howell, Westport’s Senior Director of Marketing and Business Development. “Working together, we can help build the natural gas infrastructure, provide the support needed and educate Canadians to make natural gas vehicles a part of their everyday solution for transportation.”
Members of the Media Film a Ford F-250 Westport WiNG Power System Pickup Truck - Now for Sale in Canada.

Open for Business! Westport's Ian Scott and John Lapetz Cut the Ribbon, Opening the New Westport Windsor Integration Centre.

October 11, 2013

Renewable Natural Gas Fuel – Available at a Gas Station Near You (in California)

Clean Energy will offer Redeem, renewable natural gas fuel at 35 public stations in California.
A new type of natural gas fuel entered the commercial market last week: Clean Energy Fuels announced it will be selling ‘Redeem’ at 35 public stations throughout California. Redeem is a renewable natural gas fuel made from waste streams such as landfills, large dairies and sewage plants.

Renewable natural gas is produced from biogas and biomass feedstock sources and can be upgraded to pipeline quality gas (also known as biomethane) that is interchangeable with fossil natural gas. It can be used as a 100 per cent substitute for, or blended with conventional gas sources for use in vehicle engines.
It’s the first time a company will be offering this type of fuel for sale to the public. But it’s not the first time fleets have used the fuel. Waste Management, has been using biomethane from its landfill to fuel many of its more than 2,000 garbage trucks, the majority of which are equipped with engines supplied by Cummins Westport (CWI).

“When a company can produce its own fuel from its own landfill operations to power its own fleet, it really doesn’t get any better than that,” said Charlie Ker, refuse segment director for CWI. “And we’re seeing more and more examples of this happening in fleets across North America.”

Since 2008, Cummins Westport has sold about 8,000 natural gas engines in the waste recovery and recycling industry.

A New York Times article published on October 2 states that Clean Energy’s announcement came as a surprise to many in the transportation industry; widespread, publicly available renewable natural gas was not anticipated this year. The article’s author, journalist Diane Cardwell states that California’s state-level incentives are encouraging the adoption of cleaner fuels, as the state aims to reach 1990-level carbon emissions targets by 2020.

Clean Energy’s announcement states that Redeem is being produced at facilities in Dallas, Texas; Canton, Michigan and is constructing a third facility in Millington, Tennessee; it’s also being sourced from third parties.

Thousands of cars, taxis, shuttles and industrial fleets in California are now using Clean Energy’s Redeem fuel, including around 600 vehicles at the San Francisco International Airport, which announced on October 4 that it would be using Redeem fuel at the airport’s two CNG stations.

Related Reading:
Redeem Fuel: www.redeembycleanenergy.com.
Waste Management and Cummins Westport: http://rpn.baumpub.com/news/3664/on-the-road-to-natural-gas-in-the-waste-and-recycling-industry
Renewable Natural Gas: http://www.westport.com/is/natural-gas/biomethane

October 8, 2013

Westport Leader Now a Sustainability All Star

One of Westport’s leaders is now a ‘Sustainability All Star.’ Westport Vice President John Lapetz was one of 40 individuals recognized at Green Fleet Magazine’s third annual Sustainability All-Star Awards ceremony on October 2 in Phoenix, Arizona for his achievements in alternative fuel vehicle systems.

“I’m pleased and honoured to receive this award on behalf of all the people who I have worked with in pursuing what I feel is a national and global imperative – to leave the world the way we found it,” John said. “This award is an affirmation that the support I received from Ford Motor Company and now with Westport in pursuing that goal has not gone unnoticed. I also want to congratulate all of my fellow winners for their efforts.”

John began his journey with alternative fuel vehicles at Ford Motor Company, where he worked for 35 years. After pioneering the development of Ford’s program worldwide, from natural gas fleet vehicles to hydrogen buses, as well as playing a key role in development of Ford’s Qualifed Vehicle Modifer (QVM) and FlexFuel programs, John assumed the role of Director of Technology for the Clean Vehicle Education Foundation in 2009.

John’s current role at Westport includes the engineering and development of the bi-fuel (CNG/gasoline) Westport WiNG™ Power System out of Westport’s Michigan location.

In June, Westport acquired BAF Technologies, Inc. and its subsidiary, ServoTech Engineering, Inc., securing its position as Ford’s largest partner under the QVM program with over 10 products and approximately 150 Ford authorized dealerships. Westport also recently announced it will offer the newly launched natural gas powered Ford F-150 featuring the Westport WiNG™ Power System in both the United States and Canada.

Green Fleet magazine staff reviewed nominees who’ve achieved significant sustainability accomplishments and made innovative contributions to reducing emissions and fuel consumption. Overall industry involvement was also considered. The 40 award winners included commercial and public sector fleet managers as well as vendors and suppliers. They will be featured in the upcoming issue of Green Fleet magazine.

The complete list of award winners can be viewed here: http://www.greenfleetmagazine.com/news/51732/2013-sustainability-all-star-award-winners-announced-at-green-fleet-conference?utm_campaign=Breaking-News-20131002&utm_source=Email&utm_medium=Enewsletter

October 3, 2013

Westport Rallies for Natural Gas Vehicle Adoption in Europe

Westport will be hitting the road this week as a participant in the Blue Corridor Natural Gas Vehicle Rally, happening from October 3 to 19. Organized by fuel suppliers Gazprom and E.ON, the rally stars in St. Petersburg, Russia, and travels a 3,900 kilometre route around the Baltic Sea, with stops in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. It even includes a ride on a ferry that operates on liquefied natural gas.

Westport’s Mats Christensson will be driving a bi-fuel Volvo V70, powered by Westport’s natural gas system, from our facility in Gothenborg, Sweden to Hamburg, Germany.

“The rally is organized by major natural gas suppliers in Europe, and we believe it’s a good way to promote the use of natural gas vehicles,” says Mats.
Westport's Mats Christensson hits the road Oct. 8 - 10, driving the bi-fuel Volvo V70 starting in Gothenborg. 
This is the seventh Blue Corridor rally, and since the first one was held the number of natural gas vehicles worldwide has almost doubled from 9.5 million to more than 17 million today.

Natural gas vehicles offer economic and environmental benefits, and part of the purpose of the rally is to educate fleets, public authorities and the public about the advantages of considering NGVs over vehicles that operate on petroleum-based fuels.

Westport will be on hand for a round table discussion with industry, policy makers, and auto enthusiasts, and to display the Volvo V70 while in Hamburg on October 10.

“We’ll be exhibiting the vehicle to anyone who’s interested in learning more,” says Mats.

And people who happen to miss the rally stop and exhibition in Hamburg can still have a chance to see the Volvo V70, as it will be on loan to the Auto Nova Volvo dealership in Hamburg through to December.

Follow Mats’s journey during the Rally on Twitter @WestportDotCom from October 8 through 10.
The route Mats will drive for the Blue Corridor rally beginning in Gothenborg, Sweden.